The New Bike Concept: Run, Don’t Ride
Here’s a novel idea: Instead of riding a bike, why not run on your bike? Instead of sitting on your bike, why not use a stand-up version?
The outdoor-capable elliptical bike is a relatively new kind of exercise wonder that is like riding a bicycle, but in place of sitting and pedaling away to propel yourself into motion, you’re upright and use a soft running motion to move forward instead.
Think of it as a running bike, instead of the regular one your ride. It’s so much fun to use, you’ll hardly realize how much exercise you’re also getting.
And in this article, I’ll show you just how it helps you achieve all that, how it works, and why.
It’ll be among the most fun you’ll experience while breaking a sweat. But first, some perspective.
The “I Want to Exercise But It’s Too Tiring and Boring” Syndrome
While culture and people at large make you feel guilty for wanting to get gains for things you didn’t really work very hard for (like the seemingly conflicting notion of exercising without getting very tired– which seems to defeat the purpose– or getting rich while not working too hard), it’s also worth looking into better tools, techniques and methods that get you from point A to point Z in fewer steps than is normally done or known.
After all, that use of tools, intellect and technology are a constant competitive advantage that history and life have shown to advance progress, whatever your definition may be: to win a war, to get ahead, to get rich, or to stay healthy.
Now, we’re all for self-improvement, but while get-fit-quick schemes are a dime a dozen, most don’t work and are forever in the same moral dustbin as get-rich-quick scams.
But sometimes, the clouds part and the aliens descend and something comes along that actually works to your great surprise.
This is one of those times.
|ElliptiGO 3C||ElliptiGO 8C||ElliptiGO 11R||ElliptiGO Arc|
|Check Price and Availability of the 3C||Check Price and Availability of the 8C||Check Price and Availability of the 11R||Check Price and Availability of the Arc|
|Type||Long stride||Long stride||Long stride||Short stride|
|Gears||3-Speed Internal Hub||8-Speed Internal Hub||11-Speed Internal Hub||8-Speed Derailleur System|
|Indoor or Outdoor?||Both||Both||Both||Outdoor|
|Colors||black, green||black, green, red||black||black, green|
|Foldable Steering Columns?||No||No||Yes||No|
|Weight||42 lbs (19.1 kg)||44 lbs (20 kg)||39.4 lbs (17.9 kg)||37 lbs (16.8 kg)|
|Bottom Line||The lowest priced of the long-stride range, the 3C has much less features than an avid outdoor elliptical biker may want when compared to other models in the line, especially having only 3 speeds/gears. But it gets the job done, does what you’d expect, and provides the benefits you want. Limited only by the finer features some may not even need, it is definitely not lacking in major ones.||The Goldilocks of the long-stride family, the 8C is not too cheap, not too expensive, but just right. It does not having all the bells and whistles (as the 11R model) but has all and enough of the good stuff when it comes to its feature set to satisfy almost anyone. And while such bikes are not cheap, the 8C’s mid-range price is also “just right” and has the best rating on average.||With all the bells and whistles– including carbon fiber drive arms, a foldable steering column, the least weight and the most (11) number of levels of resistance making more than a 400% total resistance range, and many more– it’s no surprise this model is the most expensive but also the most features and benefits beyond simple performance.||More rigid than the other models, the Arc is built to train your quadriceps while being a standing/running bike and the least costing model of the family. It does this so well, but also makes this a limitation for others (especially as it results in less range and distance) who want a more general-purpose unit that enables biking for longer stretches and periods.|
|Our Reviews||3C Review||8C Review||11R Review||Arc Review|
|Read more about the 3C from Amazon||Read more about the 8C from Amazon||Read more about the 11R from Amazon||Read more about the Arc from Amazon|
What’s Your Goal?
To get thinner? To get fit? To stay fit? Maybe to just have fun without the guilt? Or Have fun while killing your guilt?
A good dose of exercise on a regular basis is a big chunk of the pie that gets you there. But here’s the clincher: Is there a way to do all that exercise– to huff and to puff and bring that fat down– but in a way that’s more fun? Or at least not be so boring or tiring?
Here’s the answer: Yes there is.
There is a way you can dramatically hit your health or weight-loss goals, especially if it falls within the confines of health, losing weight, training for an athletic endeavor, or a host of other things, including to just have fun outside.
It’s called an elliptical bicycle, and it’s made so you can have a lot of fun with it indoor or outdoors, and get your heart partying nonstop like a disco.
What is it and Why Should I Care?
The outdoor elliptical cycle duplicates the enjoyment of a bike ride with the benefits of a stationary elliptical cross trainer in a mobile device that comes in a variety of configurations but that all operate by way of biking-by-walking instead of pedaling.
Able to climb steep hills and inclines up to 30%, it’s the perfect workout bike that will be the envy of your gym spin cycle and stepper mates, as well as of all onlookers who can’t help but ogle a double-take once they catch a glimpse of you on the road, sweating like a gym hipster and smiling all over.
Why does this matter?
The Stand Up Bike
Bring some stepping action to a bike and exercise on it with the wind on your back, without sitting or staying at home. It’s an innovative contrast to under desk bikes, with a nice twist to the joys of exercising beyond the gym: Use an elliptical exercise trainer like those used in the gym then apply them to a bike to produce a bicycle that you run on instead of sit on (and pedal with); and bring you to a whole new game of fitness innovation since sliced bread and Fitbits.
Plays Really Well with Your Favorite Bike Accessories
While this standing-type bicycle is a wholly happy experience and fun ride on its own, its use of a very different pedaling and thrust mechanism (elliptical instead of regular pedals) make people believe everything is different. Not so, because elliptical bikes can use regular bicycle accessories without issue!
The Indoor and Outdoor Elliptical Bike Combo
By their nature, the elliptical cycles you see in the gym are just that, permanently pinned to the same place indoor. Elliptical bikes on the other hand– usually of the outdoor variety or the indoor/outdoor combo– enable you to achieve something that used to be mutually exclusive: exercise like you would on a (normally) standing and indoor machine, but instead of being confined to the oppression of four walls (or a lousy TV show) indoors, be able to grab the joy of riding outside.
More than a Bicycle and Outdoor Elliptical in One
This fitness wonder is a combination of various elements that (cycle, trainer) combined then applied to great effect to produce a range of healthy and gratifying effects that each of the previous concepts could only dream of.
The Uncanny Exercise Ride
Think of it like the platypus of the bike world, or as well, of gym machines’ world. You know, that mammal that looks like a beaver, sports a duck’s bill, has waterproof fur, has webbed feet as well as venomous spurs (for defense). And oh, it lays eggs. Yes, that one. Well, this is its two-wheeled cousin.
In other words, it’s a frankenbike of sorts(the good kind) that looks as if it’s a monster patched together from discarded bike and gym-machine parts. But it’s done so well that the many benefits it produces more than make up for all its seeming weirdness. It provides the unique versatility not found in other bikes or trainers.
And that’s what makes it amazing. Here’s why.
Benefits of Elliptical Bikes
The benefits of ellipticals are numerous, but more than a quantifiable list, its real advantage is the quality of workout and level of training you get.
First, it’s like a bike. It usually has two wheels, though there have been versions of the three-wheeled and four-wheeled variety.
Second, it’s also like an elliptical trainer, like those you find in the gym. Also called a cross-trainer, these are stationary exercise machines users use to simulate walking, climbing on an incline, or even running.
Instead of running, which bears some impact on your sole and feet that stress on your lower extremities all the way to legs and joints overall, this one is very low-impact.
In fact, to say its low-impact is an understatement. You probably have more impact walking than on such a machine, whose movement seems to simulate floating on air or cycling on water. And it comes with a telescoping frame that you can adjust to your taste, height, and comfort. This way, it gives you a full-body exercise that is more fun for all the limbs you’re using.
But that’s not all.
Third, it’s an upright bike: Instead of sitting (on a bike), you’re standing and walking or running (depending on your speed or point of view) on it.
Fourth, you can use it practically anywhere. You can use it indoor, or if you decide to take it for a spin, or go out and ride it as an outdoor elliptical bike the way ellipticals were meant to do before the gym constrained them inside. People report riding it for over 100 miles at an average of 15mph and having the time of their lives.
Some models have an 8-speed control or higher gear levels to allow you to scale even the steepest terrains with ease.
General Advantages and Disadvantages of Elliptical Bikes
As with anything, there is the good, and also the bad. These machines take advantage of the strengths of the originating machines it has taken inspiration from, particularly where it combines a bicycle with an indoor trainer for a standing, walking (or running) version of riding a bike.
It may also have its share of downsides, as one would expect for such a relatively new category. But as you’ll see below, its disadvantages are far less in their weight and gravity compared to the many benefits you can attain from using them.
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Here’s the unfiltered pros and cons.
- Standing Bike. Its upright, “standing up” riding position prevents the usual stresses (especially long-term) on your back as you would expect from a regular bicycle, as well as other parts of your body such as neck and posterior from sitting too long.
- More benefits. Not only does it feel as natural as sitting on a regular bicycle, it has its own array of health benefits, not the least of which is how it frees you from the dangers of crouching and sitting too long on a ride or for the long-term. Even longstanding injured bikers who have lamented their inability to enjoy such a ride have a newfound lease on a new level of bike enjoyment without the pitfalls they endured before.
- Low Impact. Even a great pair of running shoes can only buffer your feet, legs and joints so much. Ultimately, having your feet hit the road will have its longer-term consequences. Not this baby. You pedal in a circular motion that feels like swim-running without the harsh and constant impacts involved
- A different level of enjoyment. It provides a feeling of “running on air” during use
- Efficient. Some models burn a full third (30%+) more than a regular bike
- More bang for your buck and time. Gives a better workout for the same amount of time, or even for less time
- Weather-agnostic. Use it outdoors or indoor with ease
- Inclusive. Great for any user, from Olympic athletes to a casual user at home
- Combo: It’s an outdoor bike as well as an indoor exercise machine. It’s a moving trainer, serving like two machines in one. And that’s not an exaggeration because it can literally serve in both conditions.
- Full-body exercise. You move your lower extremities, and your arms along the handle, to give yourself not just a fine cardiovascular regimen, but a physical workout
- Distance without stress. Going that extra mile in style. People have happily reported making over 100-mile trips of pure bliss, with all the workout benefits that go with it, and enjoying it the whole time
- For some models (like the ElliptiGO Arc), the benefit of its rocking, pivoting foot platforms (pedals) can also be its own problem. Some people feel an inability to acquire a taste for it, and complain that it makes them feel off-balance. A seemingly small matter that can ruin their entire experience with it for the life of the machine.
- Because you’re practically standing the whole time– compared to a regular bike where your weight is focused on the seat– in this case your weight is distributed fully on the foot pedals, which means there is more wear on them and it puts more strain on the chain and parts, particularly when you will have changed gears often enough. If that ever became an issue, it’s nothing that a little lube can’t handle.
- Attention. This is fine if you like it, but if not, the machine is still uncommon enough that people may gawk and stare with wide-eyed wonderment at the sassy “stand-up” leg machine that escaped from the gym.
- Large. It is big and long. And when you ride it, it will seem very high as well. And when you plan on taking it on your car, if it’s small (such as a hatchback), give it a bit of planning and forethought for carriage.
- Can sometimes feel a little unnatural because while the foot pedals can rotate on its front/back axis as you move, it doesn’t really swivel and therefore feels like you’re running with your feet rigidly pointing at a fixed direction, and can need getting used to for some people.
- No shock-absorbers. Normally this is not a problem and likely have been intended to be this way by design, but in some situations when there are acute qualities of the road or direction (such as deep potholes), it can cause the rider to lose control.
As you can see, even if you try really hard to find downsides, the benefits still have them beat in spades.
More than an “Elliptical Bike 2-in-1”
Seriously, it’s a bicycle and stepper in one, and a lot more besides. And they’re all trained for two core benefits:
- Provide you with a good dose of high-level exercise; and
- Have a lot of fun doing it
Add to that one more: it’s a combo indoor and outdoor elliptical bike, because it can work in either.
Concerns are Lightweight
Cost. Going in the low four-figures on average, it’s certainly no training wheels. But manufacturers usually provide good warranties, easy return policies, free trials, and even installment plans to preclude the chance of making your budget a dealbreaker.
Novelty. It’s so new that people may stare at you weird in the beginning. But this is easily and quickly offset by the amusement you get while at the same time, getting high on the endorphins from your excursion.
Speed. This machine is meant to be used at a fun pace, generally around 15mph or up. It’s not one for the races, but faster than you’d normally need, and exactly the kind you’d like for a good ride. Especially one that combines a good exercise.
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In fact, it’s intentionally made to be slower than a bike (averaging at about a third of a bike ride). This is due to structure, weight, and aerodynamics, but most importantly for resistance, to make for a better workout.
All in all, outside only of one’s ability to afford it, whatever concerns possible are practically shallow, especially when compared to the depth and quality of the advantages inherent in these types of machines.
Here’s how to pick one.
The Best Elliptical Road Bike?
Elliptical trainers first entered the market in the 1990s. They were invented by Precor, and are made to train the user’s upper and lower body.
They are a good example of a weight-bearing form of exercise (regular contraptions like these have a predominantly cardio benefit; this one has the kind as if you are also carrying gym weights), that are self-powered by the user’s motion.
The bicycle versions combine the motion of an indoor elliptical trainer with the mobility of a regular bike outdoor. They come in different form factors, but all are essentially modifications from the concept of a street bike.
While there are several criteria for selecting one perfect for you (click here for the specific criteria and intro to reviews), the best machine is one that gives you the utmost effectiveness (especially in the amount of exercise you’re able to maximize) while at the same time provide a high level of enjoyment, especially when these machines are touted to be the most fun alternative to the age-old humble standard bicycle.
ElliptiGO vs. StreetStrider
As far as ellipticals with street-cred go, there are two brands that get the lion’s share of the market’s share.
StreetStrider has a version that the company claims it invented, but this is due to a different form-factor, that of a T-shaped lower frame trike.
Over the years, however, the brand that has become synonymous with such machines is, unsurprisingly, its pioneer: ElliptiGO.
The brand has a limited quantity of models, but almost all receive rave reviews from happy customers. They aren’t cheap by any means, but are arguably the finest specimens of such devices.
The company behind it is also known for good support, so you know you’re in good hands. And people are gushing all over it.
As a matter of fact, this outdoor elliptical bike passed the American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) commissioned and independent study to determine the effectiveness of working out on one of these bikes.
Best of all, if you also buy a model that has the option for the indoor/outdoor combo (such as any of the “long-stride” models like the 3C, 8C or 11R), you can easily set it up indoors to the delight of your health and self-preservation.
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So what do you think?
Make no mistake about it. At a time when we have emergent technologies like driverless cars, bendable smartphones, and even pilotless, driverless drone taxis, the humble bicycle has been getting a wide range of cool bike reinventions. And an upright, standing, running bike like the outdoor elliptical bike ranks high up there with desk cycles to make even the Jetsons proud.
This exercising wonder is a fantastic alternative to running, or biking, or a boring time at the gym. When indoors, it can also serve as a fine alternative to a desk bike. But using its ability for use outdoors, it really shines. And it’s an uncanny way towards combining the usually mutually exclusive domains of fitness and fun.
There are different models to serve varying exercise levels and price points. Check them out.
Update: Recent models available (these links go directly to Amazon):